The fashion industry is fast paced, dynamic and continually shifting. Fashion designers, fashionistas and consumers are constantly in search for the newest trends. Designers are challenged to think outside the box and not only create unique designs, but also new techniques in production and distribution.
The newest trend catching on is much more substantial than the designer and the consumer. The year this trend was highlighted in mainstream media by both Vogue and the New York Times was 1990, however, it has not been until recent years that this trend has really taken off, with the help from fashion giants H&M and Zara. What is this new trend you may ask? The New York Times Headline in March of 1990 read “The Green Movement in the Fashion World.”
In an epoch where “fair trade” and “organic” have become part of common vernacular, there is no surprise that individuals, perhaps, primarily millenials, are not only concerned about the source of their food but also about the source of their clothing and the impact it has on the environment. New designers are being challenged to think of the ethics behind their clothing and to be inspired by using resources already at hand.
Fortunately, I was able to interview Karen Jessen and her partners Anna Bach and Luis C. Zuniga on their eco-friendly fashion label Benu-Berlin. Karen Jessen is a German designer who won the 2013 EcoChic award, a fashion design competition which “challenges emerging fashion designers to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.”
Karen, Anna, and Luis were inspired to become sustainable designers because sustainability has always been an important part to their life and their education.
“It all started with the Diploma collection of Karen- she created artworks out [of] t-shirts, jeans and leather couches for the first time,” the team at Benu-Berlin says. “These “8 Acts of Rebellion” set an example for a better way, [other] than consumption and mass production, and built the base Benu-Berlin is working on now.”
One would think repurposing fabrics and objects would limit their creativity, however, these talented designers believe quite the opposite.
“Actually using second hand materials provide[s] a bigger room [for] creativity than using new fabrics for us,” the designers collectively say. “We love to experiment with different techniques like braiding or macramé and to get inspired by the soul of every item; special stitching, washings and details.”
When I asked them to define Benu-Berlin’s style, I couldn’t have received a more fitting answer.
“Benu-Berlin is unique crafted passion,” they say.
I personally believe it is this passion these emerging designers have that will serve as a catalyst for this trend.
As ideal as it all sounds-some things are too good to be true- there are downsides. For one, eco fashion is costlier and may not be able to keep up with fast fashion-H&M and Zara seem to be taking on this challenge.When I asked Karen, Anna and Luis their biggest challenges as sustainable designers they responded.
“Sometimes you may have to find special sources of material that may cost more time than usual, but this can also be a source of inspiration,” they say. “For the creative aspect you are not limited at all, as many people think- it is just about seeing things from a different angle and experiment with a fresh and free mind.”
With consumers becoming more eager to be educated about the sources of the products they purchase, this trend has potential, and with help from celebrities like Michelle Obama, Anne Hathaway and famous designer Vivienne Westwood, advocating and wearing sustainable fashion, it seems like more individuals will be eager to try the trend out.
There are also other ways to be “green” with your fashion, like buying second hand clothes, having swapping parties with your friends, and, of course, who doesn’t love cutting up old t-shirts and creating chic new shirts?
By Kimberly Quintero